The Architects of the Fontana Family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The History of a Clan

  • Auksė Kaladžinskaitė
Keywords: the eighteenth century, architecture, architects, geneology, clan, kin, family, connections, Fontana, architects of the Fontana family, Italians, Ticino, Lombardy, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Vilnius, Warsaw, Hrodna, Vitebsk, Russia


At the turn of the eighteenth century, the newcomers of the Fontana family settled in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and eventually rallied a clan of architects and engineers based on family ties. In the middle of the eighteenth century, some of the individuals connected by familial ties resided in Warsaw and worked in the milieu of the royal court, but the zone of their activity and influence covered almost the whole territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the historiography of Polish art, the Fontanas and other architects related to them have been studied in some detail, but those family members who resided and worked in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania have not been adequately researched. The phenomenon of this clan is not featured in the circulation of the history of Lithuanian art, nor has its role in the evolution of eighteenth-century architecture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania been assessed. The biographical information on the Fontana family and the data on their architectural activities suggest that the Fontana family of architects, which operated in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, comprised a group based on kinship that consciously sought to firmly establish themselves and assert leadership in the field of architecture. In the eighteenth century, the architects of the Fontana family introduced the stylistic trend of “Classicist” Baroque to the architecture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This style encompassed the echoes of Northern Italian mannerism, ascetic and austere traditions of mature baroque of Rome, as well as ideas and variations of forms transformed in the milieu of Warsaw triggered by following such precursors as Tylman van Gameren. Classicist Baroque stimulated a wide response. In the eighteenth-century arena of baroque architecture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it was competing against its main rival, the school of Vilnius Baroque.
Visual Art